Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A review and a post

Well hello to anyone still reading this blog! I can't promise I'll be around to stay on a regular basis, but I wanted to post a review of the new Hiya Hiya Interchangeable needles.

I bought these needles because as much as I enjoy them, my damn Knitpicks Options needles break at the cable join all the time. I have now broken about 8 cables over 2 sets of needles, which frankly is way too many for casual needle breakage. While I know some people can glue them in, my glue jobs are never smooth. Besides, who wants to carry super glue around in their knitting kit? I also have better things to do with my life then call Knitpicks all the time and get replacements.

I really wish they would fix this obvious design issue then waste their time developing clear plastic (?!) 'Zephyr' needle tips, but that's just my opinion.

Where to get Hiya Hiya Interchangeables

The new needle sets have had some unfortunate and lengthy production delays, but should be available for order or at a LYS soon. I was able to purchase one of the few first run sets.


I've used this set for about 6 weeks now with several yarns and several projects. I've knit mohair lace weight, smooth worsted and fingering weight wool, nubby wool/silk single ply, and a cotton/silk worsted blend.

Hiya Hiya offers the needles in two main sets. A small set (size US2-8) and a large set sizes (US9-15). Each set comes with 16, 24, 32 and 40 inch cable and a brocade storage pouch. Separate tips and longer cables will be available for sale eventually as well. I like this arrangement, since I hardly ever use a needle size outside a US10.5. So I bought the small set, and will probably buy a US9 when it becomes available. It saves you considerable money then being forced to buy tips you may not use.

The first thing you will notice and what makes this set different from other sets is that they offer a smaller needle down to a US2, and a 16" cable. In order to accomplish this, the needle tips are shorter than most sets. More on this later.

The Pouch

I love the Knitpicks original binder and was planning on using that. I love these binders to the point I have hunted down unwanted extras to store my fixed circulars in. So I thought I had my storage solution down flat.

I really have never cared for the rollup needle cases. No matter how they are made needles end up slipping out all over the place. So I was looking to just give away the Hiya Hiya brocade pouch when it came in. However, to my surprise I actually LIKE it.

The fabric and the sewing is very nice. They come in several colors as well. Chance got me this nice royal blue. There used to be a brand tag sewn on the front, but I hate brand tags on things, so I picked it off. The new pouches will have the logo embroidered on, so you won't have the option of easy removal.

Inside is the necessary, and large flap of black fabric to keep the needles from coming out. You will also see a zippered pocket in the top flap for cables and what have you.

Under the flap are the slots for the needle tips. THANK YOU Hiya Hiya for leaving some empty space for future tips you may want to add to your collection.

On the back side, there is another handy zippered pocket.

The Needle Tips

Let’s get down to the gritty.

The needles are slick smooth steel. They are definitely not as slippery as Addi or Options needles, but smooth enough for me none the less. Unless you need that greased pig feeling on needles, you'll probably be OK with these for slickness.

Each tip has the needle size printed on it in mm and US.

I would rate the tips a happy medium between blunt (Addi) and sharp (Knitpicks). I really like pointy needles with a long taper, but in all honesty these work OK for me, especially with 'regular' smooth yarns. For lace weight I may revert to another needle set in my arsenal.

(Hiya Hiya on the top, Knitpicks Option needle is on the bottom)

Now, we get to what I think will be the main issue for most people with this set. The needle tips are REALLY short. 1" shorter then Options. They really have to be, in order to make a 16" cable in the set happen.

If you grasp your needle with your hand so it lies in your palm, it is going to jab you in the meat of your hand. If you hold your needle just with your fingertips, you'll never notice the loss of the inch. My hold is some mix of both, so I'm not completely comfortable holding these needles. Now I can live with it, but this is the biggest factor that keeps the set from being a superstar for me.

The Cables and Joins

The needles attach into the cables by simply screwing them into the cable. No tools are required, which I find handy. The cable end is on a swivel, which would be otherwise wonderful and prevents needle twisting- if I didn't feel it cranking into the meat of my thumb because of the short needle tip.

Sometimes I do find the needle working itself unscrewed. It’s not a chronic problem (happens a couple times a project) and could even be my hesitation to keep from cranking on it too hard. Anyway, it’s no big deal, usually it’s apparent before the needle comes unscrewed all the way and drops your stitches because the yarn will start to snag. It's better than the needle breaking and requiring glue, like some brands...

I bought a cheap, rubberized grip gardening glove to help grab the needle if my hands feel slick or lotion coated. I don't think it's necessary, but it helps if you have a problem tightening the tip down. You should never use pliers or any tools on the needle tips.

Once screwed in, the join is undetectable, even with lace weight mohair.

If you are knitting lace with very fine yarn, it may 'catch' on the transitional taper ‘bump’ to main needle body. I didn't have a huge issue with it, and never noticed it at all knitting lace with fingering and larger weight yarns. I can see the possibility that you death grip, super tight knitters may not be gliding yarnovers over that bump with ease.

The best part of this set? The cables, oh the cables. They are clear (not some intestine purplish color) and really resemble slinky high test fishing line. It is much thinner than any other cable I have seen, and it does not twist or hold a shape whatsoever. The swivel inside the join keeps the work from ever twisting on you. If you knit socks with 1 circular needle, I highly suggest you try this cable. It's like not having a cable at all. A-plus on the cable design!


If you can get over the shortened needles, I would suggest this set to anyone. It is a good value at about $68 retail for the small set. Especially when you consider you don't have to go buy 16" circulars if you are a new knitter. However, I'm still looking for the perfect needle set, the one that will allow me to give away all my other circular needles. The Hiya Hiya set, like all the others I’ve tried, just falls short.